Sen. Tom Coburn said Saturday he had good vibes about an imminent debt deal.
Updated: 11:25 p.m.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) postponed a procedural vote on his budget plan Saturday night, just hours after Congressional Republicans announced they had re-entered negotiations with the White House and three days before a Treasury deadline to avoid government default.
The Senate is now slated to vote on the Reid plan, which lost significant momentum Saturday, on Sunday at 1 p.m.
“There are negotiations going on at the White House to avert a catastrophic default on the nation’s debt. There are many elements to be finalized and there is still a distance to go before any agreement can be completed, but I believe we should give everyone as much room as possible to do their work,” Reid said late Saturday night on the floor. He said that in several conversations with the White House throughout the evening, he was asked to give negotiators more time for a deal to be reached.
The new deal being discussed between the White House and Congressional leaders is strikingly similar to existing offerings from both Reid and Boehner, with approximately $1 trillion in immediate discretionary cuts and additional savings to be negotiated by a new Congressional committee tasked with producing a framework by year’s end.
The key sticking point yet again appears to be on a so-called “trigger,” or a built-in mechanism in the agreement that would pressure the newly created panel to actually produce the savings lawmakers seek.
"The trigger is the most important part of it right now. There's a new approach to it, different approach, which I think will work. Key parts of its are unresolved. But it appears that both sides actively are trying to make it work," Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said late Saturday.
"Sequestration is part of it obviously. They would have to have it. What we're trying to do is how to make sequestration painful for both sides," Durbin added, referring to mandatory across-the-board cuts, including to entitlements and defense spending, that would be enacted if the panel fails to produce the extra trillions in savings. Durbin denied earlier reports of a link between the expatriation of the Bush-era tax cuts and the second round of savings
Such a mechanism, however, is sure to raise ire from rank-and-file Democrats who would not want the added pressure of those types of cuts to be associated with the second phase of negotiations later this year. Democrats have for months insisted that any trigger or final deal include revenues in addition to spending cuts. But by bundling defense and Medicare cuts, Democrats could increase the pressure on Republicans in an election year to negotiate in good faith lest they appear to be favoring the wealthy at the expense of seniors or the troops.
Earlier Saturday, the original Reid plan, which would cut $2.4 trillion over the next 10 years in addition to establishing a panel to find more savings by the end of 2011, was voted down in the House.
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